Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I suppose I should weigh in on this whole ‘Osama is Dead’ thing too, because, why the hell not?

September 11th 2001 was exactly 8 days before I started my freshman year of college. I woke up to a phone call from a friend telling me to turn on the television. “What channel?” I asked. “Any channel.”Uh oh. I knew from the tone of his voice that this couldn’t be good. “I’ll be over in a few,” he said.

Begrudgingly, I got out of bed and headed downstairs in my boxers, grabbed a bowl of cereal and plopped down in front of the television. The flurry of news and anchors and panic that came spewing out of the television for the next several days was a literal blur. So, I’ll try to describe what I felt and what I can remember.

A lot of people will say they’ll always remember when they first saw the planes crash into the World Trade Center – but I honestly can’t remember the feelings I initially had. I think I was mostly confused since my Hayward Public Education failed to teach me what the “World Trade Center” even was (let alone, nouns, verbs, pronouns, and adverbs - thanks to MadLibs for that). Or perhaps I wasn’t paying attention that day in class. Either way. When I asked my friend (the one who initially alerted me to the news), he summed it up simply by saying, “It’s the WORLD Trade Center.” OH. Got it.

I remember people thinking it was initially an accident...and then the second plane crashing into the towers. I remember talk of someone named Osama Bin Laden. I remember people vowing revenge and retaliation. What I don’t remember is when I stopped remembering. I suppose it happened in college.

I was fortunate enough to go to school in sunny Santa Barbara, CA – a wealthy beach town that almost seemed insulated from the entire thing. Granted, I was a declared Sociology major entering school, and one of my professors (Mark Juergensmeyer) had just finished writing “Terror in the Mind of God” (making him an instant celebrity for practically predicting what happened), so I was inundated with theories on the rise of religious activism/terrorism and even presented with the “logic” behind terrorist acts and organizations. Unfortunately, like most college classes, after my final I proceeded to destroy any insight or knowledge gleaned through the course with a healthy (read: unhealthy) amount of booze.

Though I briefly entertained pursuing a military career after college, I certainly wasn’t thinking about Osama Bin Laden when I graduated a quarter early in 2005 - less than 4 years after the attack on the World Trade Center. I don’t think it was even mentioned at my commencement ceremony – or any of the other dozen or so I attended while working at the Campus Police Department. Somewhere in there, it wasn’t being remembered.

This of course isn’t to say that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 didn’t have lasting residual effects on thousands and thousands of Americans (and non-Americans) who lost family and loved ones on that day - as I’m sure they still do. Personally, I didn’t know anyone who perished in the attacks. Hell, as an 18 year old I barely knew anyone outside of my high school graduating class…Which is why I was confused to see college students celebrating like they had each just won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right (back when it was Barker, not Carey). I mean, these kids were 8-12 when the attacks happened. Aside from those who had immediate familial loss, how many of these kids even remember it happening? I mean, if I was there I suppose I would have gotten my celebration on, too. Kind of rhetorical, kind of not, I guess. Again, I was 18 at the time and didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was, so perhaps my view is invalid anyway.

Did I celebrate? Nah.

In fact, when I first heard the news, I actually thought my roommate told me that they killed OBAMA. Yup. Smack dab in the middle of a Ninja Warrior Marathon on G4, I paused the TV looked at him and said, “What!?”. “Yeah, Obama’s gonna make a statement in a minute.” Again, “What!?” “Yeah, they killed Osama Bin Laden somewhere in Pakistan.” “OH!!! OSAMA.”

For what seemed like 5 minutes, but was really only seconds - time slowed down and I began to tell myself that this was our JFK. Growing up, kids in my high school complained that we never had anything significant happen in our lives (until 9/11). No President assassinations, no MLKs. But now??? Here, it was. Obama was killed. And all I could think was, "Great. When my nephew asks me where I was when Obama was killed, I'm not gonna have anything cool to say. Instead I'm gonna be like, 'Well, I was eating gummy bears on my couch watching Ninja Warrior.' Then he's gonna be all like, 'What's ninja Warrior'? Then I'm gonna be like, "OH MAN, you don't know what NINJA WARRIOR IS!??!" And then he's gonna ask me something ridiculous like whether it was like Power Rangers, and it's all gonna go down from there..."

Oh wait, Obama wasn’t killed. OSAMA was killed.

So what did I do? Set my TiVo to record the Daily Show the following night, knowing I would get only the finest news. And then put the Ninja Warrior Marathon back on.

What a world.


  1. I like. Especially the dialogue between you and Josiah. Because I'm pretty sure that's EXACTLY how it would go down.

  2. I pictured the dialogue being between Rick and an older Coop. It's funny how picturing a different nephew changes everything. Thanks Al. Miss you...

  3. It was kind of a combo. Coop would have no idea what Power Rangers are/were, and I figured Josiah would have been old enough to remember if the President was assassinated. What do kids watch these days that would be similar to Ninja Warrior? Dora's out - I think...